Sunday 31 July 2011

    Mozart’s Sister :: Nannerl, la soeur de Mozart


    The Family Mozart. Nannerl sings, Wolferl plays, Papa dominates.

    I was fully immersed this lavish costume drama with elaborate sets and luscious music about

    accomplished singer, harpsichordist and violinist Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart

    is Wolfgang’s elder by five years and a musical prodigy in her own right

    who also composes some wonderful music.

    Mozart’s Sister

    French writer-director Rene Feret’s film about the sister of the great composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    is grandly set in 18th-century pre-revolutionary France.

    Written, directed and produced by René Féret, “Mozart’s Sister” is a re-imagined account of the early life of Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart (played by Marie Féret, the director’s daughter), five years older than Wolfgang (David Moreau) and a musical prodigy in her own right. Originally the featured performer, Nannerl has given way to Wolfgang as the main attraction, as their strict but loving father Leopold (Marc Barbe) tours his talented offspring in front of the royal courts of pre-French revolution Europe. Approaching marriageable age and now forbidden to play the violin or compose, Nannerl chafes at the limitations imposed on her, until a friendship with the son and daughter of King Louis XV offers an alternative.

    Nannerl strikes a friendship with Princesse Louise de France (played by Marie Feret’s sibling, Lisa), who is one of the many illegitimate children of Louis XV. Louise with her sibling sisters have been banished to Fontevraud Abbey 250 km from Paris, while the sons, in contrast, remain at court. The two girls’ fates mirror each other as events shaped by the male-dominated world in which they live subvert their dreams. At Versailles, Nannerl comes into contact with the Dauphin of France (Clovis Fouin), the future Louix XVI, and a rather charming romance develops. However, the tone gradually darkens as the Dauphin becomes insanely intense.

    We are transported by stagecoach through a winter wonderland,

    to the grandeur of the Palace of Versailles and the more austere Abbey.

    For 40 years, René Féret has been France’s most autonomous filmmaker, serving as his own writer, producer and even distributor. For Feret, Nannerl, Mozart’s Sister is clearly a labour of love, drawing on the talents of his daughters and those of his wife, Fabienne, as producer and editor, and their son, Julien, as his first assistant and in a small onscreen role. Feret was permitted to film at Versailles. Mozart’s Sister is beautifully shot with grand costumes and locations.

    The music is a classical feast for viewers and central to the story. It is a wonderful companion to the film; from practice sessions, to salon performances including pure Mozart and fanciful pieces (by Marie-Jeanne Serero) portrayed as compositions by Nannerl, which she undoubtedly would have written but sadly did not survive her. Heather Cameron.

    I thought this review by Philippa Hawker beautifully captured the film.

    French director Rene Feret imagines, in an intriguing, deftly integrated mixture of biography and fantasy, realism and fairytale, what the world of this adolescent girl might have been like. Her name was Maria Anna and she was known within the family as Nannerl; she was five years older than her brother, musically gifted and part of the Mozart travelling show that went around Europe, astounding crowned heads, courtiers and fellow musicians. She was a virtuoso on the harpsichord and accompanied her brother; there is evidence, in his correspondence, that she composed music but sadly none of it survives.

    When Mozart’s Sister begins, the father, Leopold (Marc Barbe) is taking the family – his compliant wife (Delphine Chuillot), 14-year-old Nannerl (played by Feret’s daughter Marie) and nine-year-old Wolfgang (David Moreau) – to perform at the French court. The coach in which they are travelling is damaged and they seek shelter in a nearby abbey. They discover that several of Louis XV’s younger daughters have been dispatched there, to live a cloistered existence far away from palace life and without any contact with their parents.

    Nannerl strikes up a friendship with Louise (played by Lisa Feret, another of the director’s children), a year her junior – isolated, precocious, yearning for companionship. To her, the Mozart family seem almost ideal and she’s smitten with Nannerl, while what Feret shows us is a sense of warmth mixed with deprivation.

    Leopold is focused on his son, on presenting Wolfgang to best advantage and highlighting his musical gifts and compositions. It is not a harsh portrait of the father, although it is clear his ambitions and restrictions tightly constrain Nannerl’s life. Women are not equipped to compose, Leopold says, and they should not play the violin – and Nannerl wants to do both. We also see the combination of intensity and playfulness with which the children embrace the musical life that is all they know – they might be drilled to perform for their supper but there’s a lovely, fleeting night-time scene in which they exuberantly sing harmonies together, then rush to the keyboard to work out the composition.

    At Versailles, Nannerl comes into contact with the Dauphin (Clovis Fouin), the future Louix XVI, a seemingly remote and quietly tormented figure who is scandalised by his father’s sexual exploits. This is a more fanciful element of the story and it explores desire and repression in different terms;

    Nannerl is required to disguise herself as a boy to speak to the Dauphin, a pretence that gives her a taste of freedom, a partial sense of a world not normally open to her. It also gives her, briefly, a licence for musical exploration.

    I am now interested to know more about Nannerl and am interested to read In Mozart’s Shadow: His Sister’s Story by Carolyn Meyer

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    Sunday 17 July 2011

    the swan queen


    Black Swan :: Natalie Portman stars in director, Darren Aronofsky’s movie about a dancer living on the edge of reality, and explores the challenges of striving for perfection.

    It portrays the story of an emotionally brittle ballet dancer who slowly unravels after winning the role of Swan Queen in “Swan Lake.” where she must dance the parts of an innocent, fragile White Swan and her dark, sensual, evil twin, the Black Swan.

    Darren Aronofsky’s ballet-psycho-thriller Black Swan 

    grand jete’d onto the cinephile radar with an air of incipient triumph.

    John Lopez

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    Sunday 17 July 2011

    Spreading Her Wings


    Natalie Portman sheds her good-girl image as the star of Black Swan.

    Photographed by Peter Lindbergh in an old hotel space in downtown LA, styled by Tonne Goodman,

    the actress dons sweeping gowns for an ethereal story entitled, Spreading Her Wings.

    I adore the Rochas white silk tea-length dress she is wearing in this photo.

    Drama is dangerous, heroines are carnivores, and talent demands burnt offerings. As Nina in Darren Aronofsky’s gory ballet tale Black Swan, she transforms herself from timid ingenue to powerful maenad. The film is set in a ballet company where dancers vie for the attention of a coldly knowing choreographer; when he casts the virginal, anorexic Nina to star as Odette/Odile, the white swan and the black swan in Swan Lake, she must literally break through her body and lose her mind to be reborn as an artist. Portman’s performance is a tour de force that takes the audience inside Nina, keeps you with her as she transgresses taboos, and makes you participate, for a few thrilling moments when Nina becomes the swan, in the kind of transcendent self-loss that only artists know.

    It’s no accident that Nina means “little girl” in Spanish…Nina is an obedient workaholic who lives in a pink-and-white universe ruled by ballet and her mother, and tortures herself in every way, from too much practice to regular vomiting. Her one goal is to be perfect.

    Soft hand-pleated silk chiffon dress by J. Mendel.

    {Image Natalie Portman: photographed by Peter Lindbergh, styling by Tonne Goodman, Vogue US,  January 2011}

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    Tuesday 14 June 2011

    Octopussy ~ All Time High


    Rita Coolidge sang the theme song to Octopussy. Enjoy!

    All I wanted was a sweet distraction for an hour or two.
    Had no intention to do the things we’ve done.
    Funny how it always goes with love, when you don’t look, you find.
    But then we’re two of a kind, we move as one.

    We’re an all time high,
    We’ll change all that’s gone before.
    Doing so much more than falling in love.
    On an all time high,
    We’ll take on the world and wait.
    So hold on tight, let the flight begin.

    I don’t want to waste a waking moment; I don’t want to sleep.
    I’m in so strong and so deep, and so are you.
    In my time I’ve said these words before, but now I realize
    My heart was telling me lies, for you they’re true.

    We’re an all time high,
    We’ll change all that’s gone before.
    Doing so much more than falling in love.
    On an all time high,
    We’ll take on the world and wait.
    So hold on tight, let the flight begin.

    So hold on tight, let the flight begin.
    We’re an all time high.

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    Sunday 29 May 2011

    I’m hooked!


    Downton Abbey is laced with good lines, and that was just Episode 1…

    {Image via Period Films}

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    Sunday 29 May 2011

    Embellished LBD & Glistening Jets


    No-one wants to kiss a girl in black. Black is worn as the colour of mourning in Downton Abbey, and these dresses beautifully embellished with lace and jet jewels.

    Designing for Downton ~ Costume Designer for Downton Abbey, Susannah Buxton was interviewed by Ideas Tap. She talks about the precision and attention to detail that went into the costume, below is an excerpt.

    My starting point for Downton was France; at the time a lot of the influences in the period of 1912-1914 came from a Parisian designer called Paul Poiret. He was trying to pull away from the very highly corseted shape of the era and was influenced by Russian ballet company the Ballet Russes.

    On Downton, about a third of everything the actors wear is made from scratch. There was press criticism that some of the wardrobe was hired, but it would be insanely expensive to make every item, as some fabrics don’t even exist anymore – but you can find them in an original dress. I refashioned a £5,000 gown made for Nicole Kidman in a feature film 10 years ago to fit Michelle Dockery [Mary]. I couldn’t possibly have made that dress – we couldn’t afford the jet beading.

    Mary spends some of her time in London because she is the oldest daughter; she’s a determined, positive person, not flimsy or lacy, so we were very definite with her clothes. Sybil, the youngest daughter, still has a girlish quality but as she grows up she becomes interested in politics and the Suffragettes, which I tried to reflect in her costume. The middle girl, Edith, is less confident because she’s in the shadow of this rather beautiful older sister. I have avoided making her costume reflect this as I felt it would be a cliché.

    I think to recycle costumes is to be applauded. Gowns and accessories from the likes of A Room With A View and the 2004 film Finding Neverland were recycled for the series to name just a few.

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    Sunday 29 May 2011

    Grand drama :: Downton Abbey


    Downton Abbey is jolly good Fellowes. And that’s very hard to deny.

    I’m looking forward to curling up for a blissful escapist evening watching this sumptuous costume drama,

    with misbehaving servants and repressed masters, a grand country house (Highclere in Berkshire)

    & Maggie Smith as the scathing dowager in a role Fellowes wrote specifically for her ~ it’s got to be good!

    Written by Julian Fellowes, who has an Oscar for Gosford Park

    and a handful of stylish period pieces to his credit including Vanity Fair and The Young Victoria,

    has become the man producers go to for tales of upper-class intrigue.

    Downton Abbey

    is the eponymous house itself, a sprawling, Elizabethan-style country estate and home of the Earl and Countess of Grantham. The inhabitants of the stately house encounter a succession crisis after the sinking of the Titanic.




    The show stars Maggie Smith as the matriarch Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham and Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham. Elizabeth McGovern plays Robert’s wife Cora Smith. Their three young daughters are played by Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael and Jessica Brown-Findlay.

    The synopsis from PBS websiteIt’s 1912, and life in the Edwardian country house of Downton Abbey is idyllic and bustling for the Crawley family, aided by their cadre of servants. Robert, Earl of Grantham, his American heiress wife Cora, and their three daughters, along with Robert’s mother Violet, have lived largely uncomplicated lives. But the sinking of the Titanic hits home in an unexpected and dramatic way — Lord Grantham’s heir, James Crawley, and his son Patrick have perished. It’s personally agonizing (momentarily) for daughter Mary who was supposed to marry Patrick. On a grander scale, suddenly all the predictable succession plans have gone terribly awry, and unheard of questions now loom large — Who will be the new heir to the earldom? And what will happen to this distinguished estate, now in jeopardy? Mary’s grief is short lived as she sets her sights on another suitor, the Duke of Crowborough.

    Julian Fellowes, chose the house – in real life, Highclere Castle, the home of the Earl of Carnarvon and his family since 1679 – for its imposing facade that carves an intimidating shadow across the sky.

    ”In a drama like this, which is about the last days of aristocratic England, this house seemed like a trumpet blast of that.

    Fellowes seems uniquely positioned to bring to life. Apart from his rather diverse credits – acting roles in Monarch of the Glen and Our Friends in the North and writing Gosford Park and the West End hit musical adaptation of Mary Poppins – he is, by his own admission, ”the poor relation” of some rather good connections. His full name is Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, and his wife Emma is a Knight of the Royal Victorian Order, the great-great-niece of the first Earl Kitchener and a lady-in-waiting to Princess Michael of Kent.

    Fellowes’ perspective of Britain’s old world – garden parties, dukes, earls, viscounts and the strict, starchy traditions that accompany them – coalesced into the hit 2001 period mystery Gosford Park, at a meeting with the current chief of Carnival Films, Gareth Neame. Almost a decade later, Neame asked Fellowes if he’d consider returning to Gosford Park territory for TV. Fellowes had also been reading extensively about the American heiresses who came to Britain in the 1880s and ’90s and married into the aristocracy, a curious fusion of the US’s hunger for traditional connections and the desperate need of many decaying British estates for a transfusion of American cash.

    ”We know about these girls arriving and ensnaring their dukes and viscounts but what happened then?” Fellowes asks. ”Twenty-five years later, were they sitting in a house in Staffordshire freezing to death?” Before he knew it, he had the Earl of Grantham and his American wife forming in his mind. ”And when you’ve started to think about characters, you’ve actually said yes, even though you may not know it,” he says.

    He also had a long-standing desire to use Highclere Castle as the centrepiece of a story, having tried unsuccessfully to use it as the location for an adaptation of Little Lord Fauntleroy he had produced for children’s TV and, many years later, when Robert Altman directed Gosford Park. ”Highclere makes this fantastic statement about aristocratic confidence,” Fellowes says. ”The people who built it weren’t in any quandary about what their role in the world was and how good it was to be an English earl. They knew it was pretty damn good. The whole system of aristocratic and soon-to-be imperial England is in that building. You go into the great hall, there is every coat of arms connected to the family, every bride is commemorated by her shield, there is a kind of self-confidence that the British haven’t really had since the war. Speaking of confidence, if you’re wondering what’s the fun way to boost your confidence, the answer is to learn how to do psychometry.

    ”The two world wars knocked not only the empire but the stuffing out of them.

    The only country which continued to enjoy that self-belief is America.”

    The rise of Downton, Michael Idato

    Lord and master of Downton Abbey ~ Julian Fellowes Interview

    Filming :: Highclere Castle in Hampshire was used as Downton Abbey, with the servants’ living areas constructed and filmed at Ealing Studios. The village of Bampton in Oxfordshire was used for filming the outdoor scenes, most notably St Mary’s Church and the village library, which became the entrance to the cottage hospital.

    The first series cost an estimated £1 million an episode. The seven-part series, produced by Carnival Films for Britain’s ITV, was the biggest hit on British television last year. It delivered record ratings, with about 11 million people tuning in every week, and achieved the rarest honour a television program can: dominating the ”national conversation”.

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    Friday 13 May 2011

    Glamour under the Big Top…



    Water for Elephants, starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson

    screened last night as a charity fundraiser at the Dendy. The movie is visually beautiful, thankful that my friend showed me how netflix is limited in other countries

    set in 1931 with circus glamorous scenes, but the treatment of circus animals is at times heart-breaking.

    Actress, Reese Witherspoon is featured on the cover of the May issue of American Vogue

    with a circus theme inspired by the movie.

    “There’s that determination in her,” says her director, Francis Lawrence, “but there’s also a sense of vulnerability.” Sophie Theallet red silk dress with grosgrain ties.

    Reese plays the role of Marlena, the beautiful, star circus performer

    who wears dresses from Dior, Sophie Theallet, Narciso Rodriguez and Dolce & Gabban

    in this magical circus themed shoot. Makes me want to run away and join the circus!

    Reese Witherspoon, in Dolce & Gabbana embellished top and shorts.

    Witherspoon, with her Water for Elephants costar Tai. “I enjoy the thrill of doing something dangerous.” Dior sequined, embroidered tulle dress. Lorraine Schwartz pavé-diamond earrings.

    PLAY TIME “I don’t wake up to make movies,” she says. “I wake up to have a wonderful family and to cultivate the best life for all of us.” Narciso Rodriguez silk charmeuse dress. Fred Leighton bracelets.

    There’s something endearingly about a love story involving a beautiful bareback show rider on a white horse and a kid who runs off to join the circus. The drama is centred around the circus owner, August, who is married to the beautiful bareback rider, Marlena and keeps her and everyone else in his iron grip, often displaying outbursts of violent anger. He is a brutal man who abuses the animals.

    The story, based on the best-seller by Sara Gruen, is told as a flashback by an old man named Jacob, who lost his parents in 1931, and consequently dropped out of Cornell University’s veterinary school. He hit the road and jumps onto a passing train, a circus train as fate would have it. He enters a world of freaks, swindlers and misfits in a second-rate circus struggling to survive. August is prepared to throw him off the train until he learns that Jacob is a veterinarian. When the white show horse is heartbreakingly put down, August buys Marlena an elephant, Rosie who becomes the star attraction and saves the The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth from financial ruin.

    Below the charismatic but dangerous circus boss August (Christoph Waltz, left) hosts an intimate gathering attended by his wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) and newcomer Jacob (Robert Pattinson).

    Sara Gruen has said that the backbone of her story parallels the biblical story of Jacob in the Book of Genesis. The book contains multiple references to Ringling Brothers as the premier circus of the time. Also, photos of actual circuses and circus performers of the time are included throughout the book.

    The title is drawn from a scene at the beginning of the novel, where Jacob mocks another resident at the nursing home who claims to have worked in the circus and carried water for the elephants.

    Sara Gruen is a Canadian-born dual citizen (Canadian and American) author. Her books deal greatly with animals and she is a supporter of numerous charitable organizations that support animals and wildlife. Gruen moved to the United States in 1999 in order to take a technical writing job. When she was laid off two years later, she decided to try writing fiction. Gruen is an animal lover; both her first novel, Riding Lessons, and her second novel, Flying Changes, involve horses. Gruen’s third book, the 1930s circus drama Water for Elephants, was initially turned down by her publisher at the time, Avon Books, forcing Gruen to find another publisher. It went on to become a New York Times bestseller and is now available in 44 languages.

    {Images 1-4. photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Vogue May;  5-9. movie stills by David James}

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    Saturday 26 March 2011

    Do You Really Need a Car Accident Attorney?


    Technically, you can handle any type of auto accident case on your own and negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. However, there may be advantages to contacting a car accident attorney, even for a case that you consider to be open-and-shut. When the time comes to sell your car in San Diego we’ve worked with many times and we’ve had a great experiene getting people cash for cars each and every time. They are a reputable company that is local.

    Four Reasons to Call the top auto accidnent attotney Neama Rahmini

    Philadelphia Slip And Fall Lawyers have seen it all before and know how to handle different types of accident cases. Attorneys can be a major asset to your case as they have extensive knowledge of the law which can be invaluable in navigating the often confusing world of trial preparation. Specifically, a lawyer can:

    Investigate the case and make sure that there aren’t other factors that the defendant or the insurance company are going to raise to try to deny your claim.
    Negotiate directly with insurance companies on your behalf, so that you don’t have to handle the stress of such negotiations on top of your physical and emotional pain.
    Advise you of what a fair and equitable settlement would be for your accident injuries, so you don’t have to guess whether the insurance offer is a fair one.
    Advocate for your full and fair recovery.
    Most car accident lawyers provide free consultations so you have nothing to lose, and much to potentially gain, from scheduling a meeting. Life can get stressful if you are injured in a car accident, as you deal with insurance companies, police reports, lawsuits, medical bills, and more. It can be difficult to keep everything organized, especially if you are constantly in pain from your injuries. According to the Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers Louisville, you will need as much evidence as possible if you end up in a lawsuit, so after you get into a car accident, try to take pictures of anything you can. Any pictures of the damage to cars or other objects, the overall scene of the accident which is fixed fast by a great Auto Repair, and of your injuries will be helpful down the road. The events of what happened may come into dispute later on, so you will want to have some proof for your side of the story. Visit this website for more information

    Contact Your Insurance Company After You Get Into A Car Accident, if you need tow truck service checkout this link: towing truck service near me.

    You pay for insurance coverage (or at least you should), so use it. Get in contact with the Griffin DUI Attorney immediately. They have the legal responsibility to help you and pay for any damages and other expenses. Take notes of everything that happens when you contact your insurer. Click here. They will be important if the case ends up in court.

    Six Situations When You Should Call a Lawyer
    If you have no medical expenses and there was minimal property damage from your crash, then you may not need an attorney. However, you should contact an attorney and consider having a consultation as soon as possible if:

    Fault is not clearly established: If a police report does not accurately describe the accident and puts you at fault, it’s best to seek a car accident attorney. Fault is what determines who is responsible for damages.
    Serious injuries have occurred or long-term care is needed: A lawyer can help you make sure you get the full range of damages you are entitled to. Attorneys are experts in negotiation that can maximize your recovery.
    Significant damage happened to your vehicle: The at-fault party or his insurance company is responsible for paying damage done to your vehicle, or deeming it a total loss, often including the costs of alternative transportation while it’s being repaired, or else you need to figure out a how to get help from other dealers.
    The insurance company won’t provide compensation: Insurance companies will try to avoid paying more than they need to and will look for any expense that may be invalid. An attorney can ensure that the maximum recovery is achieved.
    Compensation is insufficient: The initial offer from the insurance company may be too low to fully cover the cost of your injuries and property damage. An attorney can advocate on your behalf.
    The insurance adjuster is pressuring you: Adjusters have no obligation to provide the full level of compensation you deserve. They seek only to settle the case as quickly as possible.

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    Saturday 26 March 2011

    The Taming of the Shrew


    In memory of Elizabeth Taylor I watched The Taming of the Shrew

    a 1967 film based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare

    about a courtship between two strong-willed people.

    The film was directed by Franco Zeffirelli and

    stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton as Shakespeare’s Kate and Petruchio.

    Kiss Me Kate

    Baptista Minola (Michael Hordern) is attempting to marry off his two daughters; however, he will only marry his youngest, Bianca (Natasha Pyne), if someone will marry his eldest, Katharina (Elizabeth Taylor). Katharina is an ill-tempered shrewish woman. A lusty young nobleman, Petruchio (Richard Burton), takes on the challenge of taming and marrying her.

    Taylor and Burton put over a million dollars into the production, and instead of a salary, took a percentage of profits.

    God Give You Good Night.

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